Relationships

I Took Morning Phone Breaks and I’m a Happier Person

I Took Morning Phone Breaks and I'm a Happier Person

My phone and its apps are doughnut holes. I cannot “just eat one”…

The sooner I start to consume each morning — email, Instagram, texts, headlines — the more my screen cravings spike. It makes each day pass too quickly, not in a “time flies when you’re having fun” kind of way but rather, “How the hell is it 5 o’clock again and I’ve done nothing except feel desperately busy?”

I hate how addicted I am to those little pings; how I’ll lunge for phantom alerts that tease the edges of my peripheral vision. I’ll scroll forever through videos of animal friendships or remarkable kids on Ellen. These habits stretch my work hours longer than they need to be stretched. I hate how, once I am “off the clock,” I still can’t fully tear myself away from the incessant buzzing. I have been at dinners with my friends and boyfriend and family — people who I never get to see enough… and yet: *refresh, check, refresh, click, click, ping, pong.*

I fantasize about not being this way. If I were a better person, I’d put my phone in a mason jar and bury it in apricot preserves. I’d communicate exclusively through hand-written notes. But that’s not reality, is it? There has to be an in-between.

For help, I turned to Marie Forleo, author of Everything is Figureoutable. For seven mornings in a row, Forleo challenged me to avoid emails, podcasts, news, phone calls, TV, texts, all of that — until I accomplished three things: I had to do something physical, write in a journal, and follow my breath for a minimum count of 10.

“Each person has an internal compass,” Forleo explained to me. By reducing the amount of morning data we consume, she believes that we’re better able to focus on where that compass is pointing.

I decided to try it.

Monday:

On day one of Marie’s morning challenge, I woke up to the sound of my 6:30 a.m. alarm. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the telltale sign of a text notification. I reached for it, then slapped my own hand away. Then I journaled for three pages, meditated for a heroic fifteen minutes, and somehow made it to the gym without checking my phone. But at the gym, I thought about my phone the entire time as though it were an ex-boyfriend. What’s it doing right now? I wondered. Who is texting it? The moment I finished working out, I grabbed my phone from the locker and drank up screen time like a protein shake.

Tuesday:

Tuesday began with a less than enthusiastic wakeup. I shortened my meditation to three minutes, and only journaled for two. My movement was a 20-minute walk to my therapist’s office. Normally, I’d commute while listening to The Daily podcast, sending texts and trying not to get hit by cars. Because none of that was allowed, I walked in silence. It was nice, but I spent the entire time itchy and uncomfortably disconnected from the world. A huge bonus was that I arrived early, which literally never happens. And I give credit to my morning phone break for launching one of the most productive, focused Tuesdays I’ve had in a while.

Wednesday:

Wednesday was rough. Recently, my anxiety has been playing a thrilling game called, “Who do you think is mad at you right this very second?” When this happens, it is almost physically impossible to not scan every form of correspondence in an attempt to review all recent contact with the arbitrary subject of my anxiety’s attention (“HEY! I BET MARY IS MAD AT YOU!”). I’d actually go so far as to say that it makes not checking my phone a unique form of torture. Yet, somehow, I managed. Which was satisfying. Plus, my sense of rationale returned more quickly, and I was able to get on with my day, rather than let worries consume me entirely.

Thursday and Friday:

Maybe Wednesday had been the proverbial hump we all have to get over, because Thursday and Friday were downright easy. I was able to coast off the positive effects I was already feeling — I was less anxious overall, consistently early (it’s remarkable how, when you aren’t on your phone all the time, you’re suddenly like, “Hmm, guess I have nothing better to do than leave my bed now, weird…”) and less tempted to check Instagram during the day. At work, I had an easier time generating ideas. I didn’t “forget” I had a phone at dinners, but the thought of checking it felt like an unnecessary annoyance. Similarly, I learned to love quiet, phone-free walks. Without an immediate inundation of photos and opinions each morning, I was able to think more clearly. This felt like a revelation. Poor everyone, I told anyone about it who would listen. Welcome to my new church!

Saturday:

Flew too close to the sun, as they say: on Saturday, I woke up tired following a dinner with friends and was not in the mood to journal or meditate. I mostly wanted food. My boyfriend reminded me that I had said just a couple days before, “Meditating, journaling and moving don’t have to take up your whole morning, you know. It can be a one-minute-each thing.” So, I begrudgingly took that advice and did a minute of journaling — just boom, boom, boom of things I was grateful for. Then I did a two-minute meditation. To move, I put on “Girl” by Marren Morris, then did a combination of middle school P.E. exercises and wobbly interpretive dance. This, I highly, highly recommend. I can’t remember the last time I danced around like an idiot by myself.

Sunday:

On Sunday, after a college friend’s wedding, I followed the same expedited journal-meditation-dance routine. Afterward, I felt accomplished and refreshed. It was like stepping out of a shower that you’d kept putting off, and then asking, “Why don’t I do this shower thing all the time???” I noticed that I had way less Sunday anxiety than usual, and my phone had way less appeal. And, on Monday, I woke up genuinely energized (I am never energized), ready to keep the challenge going.

***

Marie says that repeating this exercise for seven consecutive days helps establish a habit, and it was true. Though my track record wasn’t flawless, I kept up the practice for three stoic weeks. Weekends were harder than weekdays. Anxious thoughts repeatedly tried to take over, sometimes successfully. Having other people around was distracting, no matter how wonderful they are. (I can only imagine what it’s like trying to do this with kids.) And then, on the fourth week, amid a wave of deadlines and a wild-eyed spree to pack up my apartment for a move, I stopped. Plop.

I suppose it’s human nature. One day you’re drinking green juice and bragging about how much you love foam-rolling, then the next thing you know, you can’t pick up the Boston cream doughnut that you dropped on the floor because your hamstrings are so tight. But when I started my mornings without a phone, the all-around benefits to my day, especially over time, were undeniable. My desire to be on my phone has still drastically waned. I now check it, but I don’t linger.

What I like about this practice is that it is, in fact, a practice. It’s about intention. If nothing else, it creates a bit of welcome mental space. In the name of a fresh new month, I’ve decided to start the challenge all over again.


Amelia Diamond is a writer and creative consultant. She’s also a New York Magazine and Man Repeller alum who lives in New York, was raised in San Francisco, and is very much still working on her bio. Follow her on Instagram, @amilli0naire.

P.S. The joy of single-tasking, and the secret to a happy marriage.

(Photo by Maddie Joyce. Says Amelia: “Thank you to Katie Sturino, who Instagrammed about her successful experience with Marie Forleo’s move-journal-meditate morning routine, which is what inspired me to try out this exercise and ultimately, write this piece!”)

  1. OMG, I geniunely thought I was the only one doing this. Thank god!

    “Recently, my anxiety has been playing a thrilling game called, “Who do you think is mad at you right this very second?” When this happens, it is almost physically impossible to not scan every form of correspondence in an attempt to review all recent contact with the arbitrary subject of my anxiety’s attention (“HEY! I BET MARY IS MAD AT YOU!”)”

  2. Brooke P says...

    I’ve made it to the 1 year mark for my Phone Detox! I feel so much happier and less anxious. I feel truly connected to my life.
    1. I deleted all social media. It was encouraging me to stage my life rather than live it, it also gave me anxiety because I was always trying to live up to all the other staged photos.
    2. I turned off all notifications – except text.
    3. I cracked the heck out of my phone a year ago, so it’s a pain to read anything. I’m purposefully not fixing it, because it keeps me off my phone.

  3. agnes says...

    I don’t own a smartphone but believe me, this article is very interesting to me because I am surrounded by people who do, and I understand now that it is a real addiction. I can see it is very hard to control. How would you not prefer to watch your child than your phone? It is powerful, and scary. I think it is great to start with a morning break!

  4. Hilary says...

    Recently, my anxiety has been playing a thrilling game called, “Who do you think is mad at you right this very second?”

    😂😂😂, this is actual thing that happens to other people, including this lovely woman who summarized in two sentences what I’ve never actually put into words? Anxiety is so annoying. I only now realize how many of my weird dysfunctions are actually anxiety related. Jo, a big post about self care/treatment for anxiety sufferers?? I know you talk about it periodically, but maybe time for a revisit with the school year starting?

  5. I gave up having my phone in the bedroom a few years ago and wake up with a Goodwill-purchased digital alarm, and it was a huge life improvement. I read more, I fall asleep faster and I don’t get angry first thing in the morning at something a conservative relative posted on Facebook haha. I deleted Instagram for a few months this year, and that really helped break my compulsive need to grab my phone. I recently downloaded it again (there were a lot of aspects of it I missed – like my friends sending me funny memes, sharing my photos and seeing body positive content!!) I’m trying to learn how to have Instagram in a way that adds to my life. I downloaded the YourHour app, which tracks my phone usage, so my goal is to use my phone less than 1.5 hours every day. Still trying to get a handle on the amount of time on Instagram, so if anyone has tips, hook me uuuup!

    • Adrianna B says...

      You can set an alert on instagram that pops up and tells you when you have spent your specified amount of instagram that day. And you can track your usage and feel good when ‘hooraaaaaaaaay I spent less than 20 minutes a day on instagram today!!’ or ‘crap, how did I literally spend an hour and a half of my day on Instagram’s lol

  6. Julie says...

    I second (third/fourth) the suggestion for a post about morning routines. As a mom of two elementary school-aged kids who works full time outside the home with a 45 minute commute on both sides of my day, I can’t figure out how people manage to accomplish so much in the morning. It’s all I can do to get everyone out of the house, fed, clothed, on the bus and make it to work on time. Help!

  7. Laura C. says...

    Serious question: does anyone use their smartphone as an actual telephone??

    • Annie says...

      I call people all the time because I get so sick of texting! And I genuinely love long phone calls with my best friends in Chicago and LA. Admittedly, I am sometimes (often) that person who texts a question then immediately calls because I decided I can’t wait for an answer. Sorry everyone.

    • AJ says...

      Yes…because I do not have an alternative for making calls.

    • Jessica says...

      Mostly I still use my landline. (I’m a tech dinosaur)

  8. Kris says...

    So happy to see your writing again Amelia! Your phone experience really resonated with me. Since getting a iPad mini years ago, my mornings revolve around it and my phone while drinking coffee. I don’t even remember what I used to do before the screens. Going to follow the plan and see what happens

  9. SB says...

    I’m grateful for each and every idea to help me be more present in the moment and slough off the anxiety of everyday life. Thanks for tracking your journey here, Amelia!

  10. Emily says...

    I love this. I started setting a timer for 5 minutes of instagram stories with coffee once my little kids are off to daycare before I shower. I can totally lose track of time otherwise! I like the openness to “something physical”. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

  11. MM says...

    A friend and I recently deleted all social media from our phones. The spontaneous experiment forced me to confront my habit of reaching for those apps reflexively (like phantom limbs) to fill lulls in time. After a few days without them, though, I was hooked. A few moments from the last month that stick out to me specifically:
    -Walking on the beach the day I deleted the apps and feeling completely connected to the world around me. No Instagram = 0% of my brain preoccupied with taking the perfect sunset photo.
    -Starting a new habit of sipping coffee in the backyard every morning instead of scrolling through reddit in bed, and feeling like I found a secret 10-minute bonus in the day.
    -Reading the newspaper for the first time in years because my parents were on their phones- ha!

    I expected to feel disconnected without social media but it’s been the total opposite. Instead of relying on Snapchat stories to keep me updated on my friends’ lives, I’m texting/calling/hanging out in person much, much more. The only people in my circle are the people I want to be in it. Life feels cozier when acquaintances from high school don’t know what I made for dinner.

    Now if I can just find a quiet alarm clock so I can keep my phone out of my bedroom entirely… suggestions welcome!xo

  12. Maranda says...

    I loved this article! I would say I have a medium healthy relationship with my phone lol

    The Good:
    – I recommend putting your phone somewhere far away from your bed and leave it on vibrate during the night. It makes me a little too anxious to sleep with my phone not in the room, just in case an emergency were to happen. This way it’s close enough for me to hear if someone calls me in the middle of the night, but a text tone doesn’t wake me up.
    – Remove all app notifications! You don’t need them- trust me!
    – Delete apps from your phone that you find are sucking up too much of your time. I was guilty of falling down the Facebook vortex every time I had a free moment. Standing in a long grocery store line? Facebook. Watching TV that wasn’t engrossing? Facebook. I did do a 30 day Facebook detox, but I have now settled on just deleting the app from my phone. I’m still able to check it on a desktop when I feel the need, but I feel like I have a much healthier mental space from it.

    The Bad:
    – For the life of me, I cannot stop scrolling through my phone while watching TV! I will be watching a show that I love but have seen before and will check Instagram or Twitter rather than really watching. I know it’s pointless but I can’t stop!!!
    – I do also check my phone right when I wake up (unless I’m waking up early to go to the gym). I only find myself scrolling for 10-15 min, so I don’t feel like I’m wasting a ton of time, but I should probably give it up. Sometimes it’s so cozy to lay back down in bed and lounge for a few more minutes though!

  13. Pru says...

    I use the settings on the iphone and the phone goes into lockdown except Messages, Calls and Whatsapp (Whatsapp because I get my messages through that) from 9.30am – 5pm each workday. The phone sits on my desk but barely pings and I have managed get so much more done as I’m not checking Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Its quite freeing.

  14. Misa says...

    Your comment about feeling so refreshed, like the feeling of taking that long put-off shower, cracked me up. That has been me all summer—sweaty, stinky and too lazy to shower but so glad when I finally do.

    The article really resonated with me. I’ve started following my husband’s lead and leave my phone plugged in upstairs and out of our bedroom. The real test will be if it makes any difference in my mornings when I go back to work in a few weeks. I’m guilty of laying in bed for far too long scrolling through my phone so hoping this will help. I

  15. Sara says...

    Do you remember that awesome phrase on needlepoint from a post several years ago: “let babies be babies?” I think I need to make another proverbial pillow: “everything is figureoutable.” Love this blog so much!

  16. rachel says...

    turn your ring tone off! really helps the disconnect. Also having a smart watch where you can quickly glance at incoming texts/calls and *not* feel the need to check you phone or even respond.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!! i have all alerts and ring tones off — my phone only vibrates with an incoming call (in case of emergency) but otherwise zero alerts. i can check it when i have a free moment, but am not constantly bombarded. makes my head feel so much clearer!

    • rachel says...

      100%

    • Em says...

      agreed! My phone only vibrates for calls and I only get notifications for texts. I don’t get any notifications from social media apps, which makes it much less tempting to check my phone!

    • Angela says...

      Yes! Also, you can put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and still select certain people as “emergency bypass” contacts!

  17. Beth Ann says...

    Loved every word of this. I also literally laughed out loud at:
    “… then did a combination of middle school P.E. exercises and wobbly interpretive dance. This, I highly, highly recommend.”

  18. Olivia says...

    Been struggling with screen time lately because of nursing. I end up on CNN, of all places, which is absolutely horrible because of the gruesome stories they post. Why do I need to read about every horrible murder or similarly awful news? I don’t.

    This is a great reminder that I should either read my real book or use my kindle app at nighttime. Thank you!

    • Soooo hard not to get caught up in phone scrolling while nursing. It helps to keep your phone far away and have a book or even Netflix. I agree, the news is just awful.

    • LisaZ says...

      I blocked both CNN and HuffPost from my iPhone. I can’t remember how to do it, but read an article about it and did it right away. I just did not need those addicting clickbait headlines in my life! I also blocked Facebook on Safari that way, as well as took all social media apps off my phone.

  19. This: “Each person has an internal compass.”

    I nearly always fill up every open mental moment with looking at my phone. Pooping? Look at my phone. Riding in a Lyft? Look at my phone. Getting my car washed? Look at my phone. I wonder what kinds of thoughts I’m crowding out of my mind by filling it with other people’s thoughts!

    • rachel says...

      well spoken!!!!

    • A says...

      Speaking of pooping, I recently read about studies investigating the relationship between cellphone usage and hemorrhoids!!! Apparently, we end up spending way more time sitting on the toilet because we are on our phones and it significantly increases pressure to the . . . area. Yikes.

  20. Heather says...

    then the next thing you know, you can’t pick up the Boston cream doughnut that you dropped on the floor because your hamstrings are so tight.

    Hahaha, thank you. Needed that tonight.

  21. Lindsay says...

    My husband and I have been having this discussion a lot lately. We hate our addiction and yet we need them for certain things so it’s always a temptation. I do have a friend who still uses a flip phone and she survives. She is very productive. I like to stick my phone far away charging and go as long as I can, sometimes several hours. Sadly that seems to be when important texts happen! I feel like the fun and feel good things I love about my phone are even better when I go without. Like everything in life!? Kind of like intermittent fasting from technology. You know you can look later so it’s not tooo hard! Wish I could be more consistent, it helps me to take the Instagram app off my phone sometimes, since that’s mainly what I’m addicted to. Then I rarely go on my phone. I remove it for about a month every few months.

  22. Patty says...

    “One day you’re drinking green juice and bragging about how much you love foam-rolling, then the next thing you know, you can’t pick up the Boston cream doughnut that you dropped on the floor because your hamstrings are so tight. ”

    Needs to be on my gravestone.

  23. sara says...

    For the past year or so I’ve been leaving my phone to charge in the kitchen when I go to bed. I used to take it with me to use as an alarm clock, but of course would end up mindlessly scrolling for at least an hour or two. So, I bought a basic digital clock for the bedroom and stopped bringing the phone to bed.

    It has made me immeasurably more content with my phone habits and increased the amount of time I spend reading actual books.

    I also quit Facebook years ago when I realized it didn’t make me feel good and ate up so much free time. I ended up doing the same with Instagram a few months ago and I don’t miss it.

    I’m kind of an all or nothing person so making those changes really helped me. I still want to cut down my phone usage even more, though. It seems there is always some appalling news to catch up on, or some random fact I “need” to look up. (Like earlier today when I was looking up historical Dorito packaging through the decades 😑)

    • Em says...

      OMG historical Dorito packaging, I’m dying here…but it’s so true!! Once you get a little blip or idea of something you want to look into, it’s incredibly hard to not just do a quick Google search, which leads down multiple black holes.

    • teegan says...

      Seconding the leaving-the-phone-in-the-kitchen habit! I’ve done this for nearly a year, and I love love love not having it tempt me right before bed or right when I wake up.

  24. Great article!

    I use the Freedom App and block myself everyday for long periods of time to remove the temptation all together. I also use the News Feed Eradicator app which totally changed my life as I’m on Facebook for work.

    And I always wonder if the creators of Instagram, Facebook even Apple ever regret what they’ve built. Like if they see young kids hunched over their phones instead of doing ANYTHING ELSE and think, “wow, I’m responsible for that”

    • Anonygirl says...

      I kind of doubt it. For them, it’s business. Steve Jobs’ kids didn’t have any Apple products when he worked there. They probably do now, but while he was alive and working at Apple, none of that stuff was allowed. He didn’t want them to get addicted. But Facebook and Instagram? Nah, those creators are purely in it for the millions.

  25. I don’t either! I buy some for work trips (to use Uber, for example) but am always glad to see it go. It’s freeing. Republic Wireless for the win.

  26. Erica says...

    Maybe before the meal you could say, “Hey, lately I’ve been trying to be less distracted by my phone so I am going to put it away and not look at it while we are together. Would you like to do it with me too?” That way it’s more of a shared goal and not something you are calling them out on. I’ve never tried this myself but now I think I will!

  27. Anon says...

    Related question: If your friend doesn’t put away their phone (and seems to have one eye on it) while you are having a meal, chatting, etc., do you say anything? It is such a pet peeve of mine, but I don’t know how to ask them to put the phone away. No matter all the polite ways I try to think of, it always seems to sound critical and holier-than-thou and…yeah.

    • Laura C. says...

      I have a dear friend that used to do this every time we met for a coffee. I would leave my phone in my bag and she always took hers and put in on the table, and used to text back other friends.
      My sister is phone addicted too. She is always constantly on WhatsApp and I have warned her more than once, “hey you are supposed to be listening to me” and every time she gets annoyed. I’m so sorry for her. My only social media is LinkedIn and this community.

    • Angela says...

      My sister taught me this trick(had to give her credit because she reads COJ too!). I half-jokingly/half-seriously say, “hey, disconnect to connect!” when someone is on there phone during a conversation. It doesn’t feel too aggressive and it usually works!

    • Angela says...

      THEIR!! Ugh

  28. anonygirl says...

    Can we get more posts like this?

    I deleted Instagram (my personal account, kept my business one to maintain the name – my business is on hiatus right now) and don’t miss it at all. I just can’t bring myself to delete my Facebook account and I DON’T KNOW WHY. I get no value from it. I read Cup of Jo. The sites I do follow on FB are places with their very own websites that I could visit. I pay for a subscription to the NY Times that I don’t use it. I have hundreds of unread books.

    I am turning 37 and feel like I’m not getting any value out of life because of the social media/internet time suck.

    Anyway, I’m going to implement some of these hacks.

    • Vix says...

      Re: Facebook, you could try deleting the app so you can only access it via a browser. Then don’t save the password in the phone’s password manager so you’re constantly typing it. Hopefully it’ll get tiresome at some point!

      I’ve hated how time-sucky Facebook is but that’s the only way most people can reach me. Then I discovered that I can disable my account but keep my Fb messenger, and that was it for my timesuck Fb feed — goodbye!

  29. Erica says...

    But how do you time your meditation without your phone?? 🤷‍♀️ 🤪

    • anonygirl says...

      Microwave timer? Egg timer? Hourglass?

      I hope these suggestions do not sound snarky, because I don’t intend them to be.

  30. Jessica says...

    I don’t have data for my iPhone. Never have. There’s the odd time when I’m out and think it would be useful to check something, but most of the time, I don’t miss it. I get quite annoyed at dinners when other people are checking their phones nonstop. While I do have full access when I’m at home in wifi range, not having access the rest of the time is refreshing.

    • Ann-Marie says...

      Same! Purposefully have no data (I bought my phone outright and just use AT&T monthly plan on automatic renewal, I only pay $25 a month for cell service!) so I can only check things at home or in coffee shops with Wi-Fi. It helps a ton. Also, no facebook on my phone and no digital devices allowed in the bedroom. Even so, I cap my instagram to 20 mins/day, but there are definitely days where I ignore that alert…

  31. Lydia says...

    Amelia! So happy to see your writing here! I miss your commentary on Man Repeller :)

  32. JB says...

    I started doing a no social media day every Sunday. I find myself binging on Saturday like I’m going to someone how sustain the fix for the next day. But what happens on Sundays is amazing, I never even miss it. Yes, I find myself annoyingly almost clicking on the app several times a day, but then I don’t and I put the phone down. Come Monday, I go for my phone first thing in the morning and probably spend a solid 15 minutes seeing whatever was posted on my day off. The rest of that day though, I find myself habitually reaching for my phone way less than normal. I find it creeping back up as the week wears on and by Saturday, I’m in a total state of gluttony again. I’ve thought about taking the entire weekend off, but I like how this is built in every day. Having seen the effects of just one day off, I’m sure this can dramatically impact the amount of time I’m spending taping and scrolling that damn thing.

  33. Holly says...

    READ DIGITAL MINIMALISM!! I want to preach it to the world. It touches all these points in the most meaningful way I’ve come across yet. It’s transformed my relationship with technology. Read friends, read 🙌🏼

    • Anne says...

      Yes!!! Cal Newport is a genius and we all need to read him. It’s transformed the way I think about my devices and my work (his earlier book – Deep Work).

  34. Reg says...

    Yes! I’ve wasted so much time on my phone. After reading Atomic Habits, I realized I don’t have self control and needed to take away all distractions. I’ve deleted ALL my social media accounts, deleted news apps, and restricted access to time suck websites (like buzzfeed, Reddit and bored panda). I’ve also changed it to grayscale. Now I just my iPhone for maps, messages, audio (podcasts and audio books while doing chores) a meditation app and a gratitude journal app. Now, I’m reading more books and have been more present with my kids and family. It’s been very freeing!

    • MM says...

      Same!!

  35. Kim says...

    A few years back, when Facebook was still new-ish, I followed the herd and signed up. I didn’t like the way people’s posts made me feel; feelings that I would otherwise NEVER have while going about my everyday routine (envy, fomo, post fatigue, anger). After a few months, I signed off and never looked at it again. In fact, because I never wanted to have those completely unnecessary feelings again, I’m pretty much social media free – I only click on the occasional link from blog posts and news stories. The questionable value received from social media is not worth mental anguish of phone addition. In fact, when I forget my phone at home from time to time, I just shrug it off. Oh well! I can check my emails at work and if there’s an emergency, I can get the message through my husband, mom, dad, etc. There’s absolutely no urgency for anything else on my phone.

    • Renee says...

      “There’s absolutely no urgency for anything else on my phone. “

      This whole sentence, YES! The fact that I now also have an Apple Watch where I can receive calls and texts has cut my phone usage down to like
      nothing.

  36. Not being on my phone in the morning makes a HUGE difference for how I feel — I get out the door faster and feel less anxious and icky. BTW, if you tend pick up your phone first thing because you want to catch up on the news, a morning podcast (like NPR Up First) is very helpful! And keeping your phone in airplane mode at night can mean you don’t even see the notifications in the AM, which helps me too.

  37. K says...

    ohhh I’ve got it bad lately. The mindless reach for instagram and facebook, how they tap into the compulsion to reach the end, but when I look back again, there’s a fresh row of “stories” with that magenta-orange ring that are waiting to be watched. “cleaning out” my notifications so that red number goes away, and then I realize it’s all a trick. I keep trying to read my book but that’s on my computer and how easy it is to just open up a web browser. I read! I’m on a productivity roll! I walk with my friends talking the whole time and don’t even think about my phone! And then I relapse, and the clock resets again.

    It’s like that Brene Brown Marc Maron interview: the internet is like fire–it can do lots of good like warm you and cook things, and it could also burn the whole house down.

  38. diana says...

    If you’re wimp like me and unable to delete instagram- just go unfollow every person on there you don’t actually know. the only “influencers” i follow are deb from smitten kitchen and COJ- with instagram stories now I can get sucked in for like HOURS if I’m following everyone and their mother. (Love the Queer Eye guys but they are tooo. much. content.) Honestly this has helped so so much. I also recommend unfollowing irrelevant “friends” too but honestly- just start by getting rid of the influencers and brands. Has bonus effect of taking away your desire to buy all the stuff they are selling as well

    • Heidi says...

      I totally just did this a few minutes ago after I read this post. I also found myself following a lot of home/interior design Instagrams, and I just went in and saved a few of their images to my collection so I remember why I like their style and then I unfollowed. If I need ideas, I’ll head back to their accounts through my saved collection, and now no more scrolling unending feeds and stories! (I kept Cup of Jo and Smitten, too.)

    • Amy says...

      Yes! Spending a few min every few months weeding out the unnecessary contacts that I’m no longer in touch with keeps social media reasonable for me. I do need to work on checking it less frequently in a day, but I never spend more than a minute before I’m completely caught up. Also – did you know you can opt to see someone’s instagram posts, but not their stories (or v.v.)? Go to their profile, click the following button, then mute, then choose what you want to stop seeing. The constantly updated stories from some people are exhausting so I just follow their posts, which are more like “highlights”.

  39. riye says...

    I’m not a big social media user but got onto Instagram to see what my friends were up to and it snowballed. Just stopped using it last month. I miss it but am starting to miss it less and less. I’m not sure I’ll go back to Instagram at the end of summer, which was my intention. The main benefit is that some of the annoying/saddening issues that managed to show up via my Instagram feed are not in my face stressing me out and that feels good. :-)

  40. Robin says...

    Haha “you can’t pick up the Boston cream donut you dropped on the floor because your hamstrings are too tight”… trust me, I’ll always be able to get that donut! You just have to bend your knees and squat.

    • riye says...

      Exactly! Or buy a pair of extra long salad tongs! :-D

  41. Dale Copley says...

    Joanna -I’d love a more general post on morning routines… (a few of these comments have my jaw on the floor, ‘you have kids and you do all THAT’, I would love these ladies to spill their secrets!)

    • katie says...

      YES! I’m so curious how other parents get through the morning and out the door. Give me a play by play! Just this morning I was day dreaming about the time in my life again when my morning won’t include scraping toddler’s breakfast off the floor and coercing 5 year old to brush teeth.

    • Janna says...

      I’m obsessed with morning and evening routines. Would looooove more posts about this.

      Or like that lovely post about personal rituals! I guess it’s like Gretchen Rubin says; it’s so much more valuable to hear about the very personal specifics of people, even if they are completely different from you, than just try and extrapolate from universal principles.

    • Laura C. says...

      I totally second this suggestion!

  42. Yes! I have done this a few times and found a huge improvement in my overall mood for the day – I need to make it more of a regular thing!

  43. KIM says...

    I actually used my iPhone settings recently to put a time limit on my social media apps after seeing that I was spending between 2-3 hours a day on social apps. I set it to 20 minutes and it’s made a HUGE difference. It’s made me more mindful in what and where I’m consuming!

  44. Kelly says...

    About a year and a half ago, I decided to not check my phone for the first two hours of the morning. We were having some money troubles and sitting on the couch with my 6 month old twins, crying because I had received a notification that we were overdrawn in the bank account at 7am, I decided this was not a healthy way to start the day. I’ve never looked back. The first few weeks were hard, but obviously I’ve kept it up! I now get up before the kids, do yoga and make breakfast, then spend some quality time with them before I go to work. I can’t recommend ditching your phone in the morning enough. And the money troubles have gotten better too (though I’m not sure the phone has anything to do with that!).

    • Jax says...

      Maybe less online shopping and keeping up with the social media Joneses?

      Or less info about intriguing, new restaurants and trendy travel destinations…

  45. kash says...

    hahaha i just hit post and saw how long that was THANK YOU FOR COMING TO MY TED TALK

    • mb says...

      HAHAHA. Kudos for the punchline. :)

    • Ker says...

      LOL I loved your TED Talk Kash. I might try the two alarms thing myself. (Also I’m in academia too!)

    • Mb says...

      Academia=me three! Student emails are always worded URGENTLY but they really are not urgent 99% of the time.

  46. kash says...

    I also hated using my phone–I would try not to check it in the morning, but since I used it as an alarm I would literally just sit around and think about how I was not checking my phone. like it was a shitty boyfriend!

    but for the last few months I’ve been doing something that works pretty well: I bought a regular alarm clock and I keep my phone charging in a different room. BUT (this is the real trick) I set an alarm for different times on each. My regular, non-phone alarm clock (by my bed) goes off and I get up and do my thing. later, about ten minutes before I need to leave the house, my phone alarm (in the kitchen) goes off. this second alarm signals the start of “phone time” for me.

    It really changed things for me! I go about my morning knowing that at 8:15 my phone alarm will go off and I will start looking at it–but that there’s nothing that’s so urgent that I NEED to check it before 8:15 AM (and if there is, let’s be real: someone will call me, not text me. and obviously this time will be different for everyone, but I’m a university lecturer and all student emails can wait until 8:30, you know?). Something about having it be a pre-set alarm helps–it makes it feel like it’s out of my personal willpower wheelhouse of choosing when to look at my phone (because the alarm will tell me when to start).

    Even if I sleep in until 8, I still have fifteen minutes of chill time before “phone time” starts. And honestly, it has made such a difference to me to have the first thing I do in the morning NOT be look at my phone. Sometimes it means I do a real Goop-y thing like meditate for a couple minutes, or do a bit of yoga, or whatever (I also like just… sitting in silence and drinking my coffee, even though it’s just regular coffee, not Gywneth gold mushroom coffee or whatever). But other times it just means that I only have time to make coffee and wash my face before checking my phone. In both cases, though, my day starts with my own thoughts, not the intrusive thoughts of technology. i recommend!

    • Naomi says...

      After I read your comment, I was looking to click on the ‘like’ button. But there isn’t one 😂 Is it the same if I just type it out? “Like!”

    • MM says...

      “Gwyneth gold mushroom coffee” hahahahaha.

      Any alarm clock recommendations?? I want to leave my phone outside our bedroom, too, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Thanks!!xo

  47. Daniela says...

    I love this but I’m noticing when I avoid my phone and then come back to it, it heightens my anxiety. I went out with a friend last night and didn’t check my phone for a few hours, then when I did I had to weed through texts, emails, pet sitting requests that had come in.. I love not using my phone but I hate coming back to tons of notifications!

  48. Jen says...

    I took social media apps off my phone in January and noticed my desire to spend time on my phone basically disappeared. I still listen to podcasts and music and text with friends, but there are big stretches of time where I don’t even know where my phone is and it’s a lovely feeling.
    I’ve found that removing myself from the social media rat-race/keeping-up-with-the-joneses game has made me a much more chill and content person.
    My morning routine: wake up to alarm clock, drink thermos of water, do a quick 15 minute Yoga with Adrienne video, meet neighbor for a morning walk/catch up. Home and get my daughter ready & off for school. Go to the gym. Come home, take a shower, make breakfast and coffee and THEN i connect to what’s going on in the world and my phone/iPad. On the weekends, it’s a little more relaxed but I try to stick to the same schedule for my sanity. :)

    • Alix says...

      Your morning routine sounds amazing! If you don’t mind me asking, do you work outside your home? I would love to fit in all of this before I leave for work at 8AM (35 min. subway ride plus a bit of walking on either end), but I would have to wake up at 5AM everyday! Would love to know how you manage to squeeze all that in and/or what time you start work…

  49. Meg says...

    After eliminating Instagram from my phone and closing my Facebook account (those were the two culprits for first-thing-in-the-morning and last-thing-before-sleep phone use, which I knew I had to eliminate for my mental well-being), I came to a place where I realized that I mostly use my phone as a crutch when I am feeling anxious, nervous, and/or bored in social situations or in public. At home, I can easily go a whole day without even thinking about my phone. But if I’m at a party, or waiting at a restaurant for a friend I’m meeting with, or at a conference, I reach for my phone as a way of avoiding feeling awkward or weird (“No one is talking to me at the conference and I’m nervous about approaching people I don’t know? I’ll just pull out my phone and browse the weather in multiple cities so that I don’t look like a loser. See, I look really busy and cool now!”). It has been much harder to stop using my phone in that way and I often feel like I’m proverbially (though not literally, which would be pretty weird to do in public) slapping my hand away from grabbing my phone during those anxious moments, but I know that it is also a very worthwhile practice to cultivate in order to strive towards greater connectedness with others and the world around me.

    • Allie says...

      This is me too!

    • MM says...

      Totally agree! It’s easy to feel like social media is the tool for connecting us with others and the world around us, but in my experience it’s almost the complete opposite. Social media only connects us in a false, surface-level way; it can’t possible compete with in-person, human connection.

      Also, if it’s any consolation, any time I see people sitting quietly by themselves and not on their phones I think they are the coolest. Like who is that mysterious woman, disconnected from the world and so sure of herself she’s content to sit quietly?? ; )

  50. Karen says...

    This is inspiring! I often notice my mood getting worse online, so I switch off the electronics all the time, but end up back on without even noticing. I love the idea of having other things to do – hell yes to the dancing – before picking the phone up. I might make my home screen background a list of those things …
    Thank you :)

  51. Rachel says...

    This is so challenging and so great! I’m a high school teacher, and for our weekly enrichment class this year I’m hosting girls only yoga. I’m making copies of this for everyone to read as we begin to talk about mindfulness and movement vs. always being plugged in to what’s going on in the digital ether.

    • celeste says...

      I loved taking yoga in high school. It was such a good alternative for those kids not interested in team sports. Good luck!

  52. Hannah R says...

    Similarly, I have restricted Instagram to only the evenings and when I do go on (after my daughter is asleep) it’s only for 15 minutes or so. The goal is to limit the time I was opening it up all day during those “waiting” moments… for the elevator, for a meeting to start, for pilates to start, etc. It’s been about 5 months now and has really changed my attachment to it and NEED for it. I hope this becomes more of a thing!

    • Katha says...

      I want to do this so bad!

      It has been on my todo list for moths. Have to try again.

  53. Jo says...

    My phone use now is mostly dedicated to my calendar, taking pictures of my son, email, reddit and EveryDollar, my budgeting app. I removed myself from Facebook more than several years ago now and more recently got rid of Intstagram. I found myself looking for ways to “find” more time. My conclusion was eventually that my time didn’t need to be “found” it needed to be more consciously spent. I run the risk of sounding preachy but goodness, once I got myself off of social media my anxiety level, feelings of lost time, sleep and relationships improved. If you want to really get an idea of how much you use your phone there are, ironically, apps that will track how and what you are using your phone time on. Apple iphones have this feature in settings now as well. You can set alerts to put it down after a certain amount of time or set hours of permissible use. Enjoy looking up again!

  54. Julie says...

    I am about to get married and am in a heightened stress state. So on the weekends, I have been taking digital sabbaths. I just turn my phone off for the whole day. I love it! It helps me calm down and focus on what is going on around me, instead of googling tablescapes or stressing about family stuff.

    • Tis says...

      “googling tablescapes”!!! What world do we live in!?!?
      Congratulations and enjoy. :)

  55. I’m a doula, so I have to have my phone on loud whenever I’m on call. I have discovered that turning off all notifications (no noises, vibrations, or little texts on your screen) for all my apps has worked wonders. Now I have to physically go in to Insta, FB or my email to see the updates, which I don’t do as often without the buzzing. It’s not switching off completely, as my work won’t allow it, but it’s the next best thing.

    • Katha says...

      Yes!
      I never had notifications turned on ever.

      I recently put the apps I waste most time on on the fourth or fifth screen (or whatever you call it) so I have to scroll through my phone to get there.
      Didn‘t help much so far ;)

  56. Lindsay says...

    Love this. I started NOT using my phone as an alarm clock.

    No phones in the bedroom and power down after 9pm….

    I also love to run and socialize “phone free” just leave that little sucker at home!

    Turns out – you miss NOTHING on social media when you’re away.

  57. virginia says...

    What a wonderful surprise to find Amelia here!

  58. jodell hammond says...

    i couldn’t agree more….i’m trying too…but speaking of apps… anyone with an app they love , find useful….there is time and place for both…i just need to commit to finding that balance!

    • Emma says...

      I would recommend checking out the phone game “Prune.” It’s very simple, meditative, and downright gorgeous. It’s peaceful and not addictive, perfect for if you just want something to focus on while waiting in doctor’s office or something.

  59. Biz says...

    Amelia! Great to see you on Cup of Jo. I loved your work on Man Repeller. Great post. I think I’ll give it a try.

  60. Sophia says...

    Good luck yo! x

  61. Rachel says...

    I just got back from a week of camping and decided that it was better to put my phone on airplane mode so it didn’t suck battery while we were out of service range. Before we left, I downloaded the music, podcasts, and books I wanted to listen and read during our trip. It was amazing and magical!

    • K says...

      That reminds me, every time I camp it’s so fulfilling! There’s bad reception so I eventually stop looking at my phone except to take pictures. I’m completely immersed in playing games, chatting, swimming, staring at the bonfire, cooking, eating…it IS magical!

    • Sarah says...

      Yes to this! Whenever we go on vacation to another country, I usually keep my phone on airplane mode and just rely on my husband’s, which we only use for maps/Uber. [Mostly because I crave a phone break, but also because I’m cheap and paying an extra $10/day per phone for international service is outrageous.] That way, I can still use my phone as a camera, and it is so fulfilling to just be in the moment– and then share photos once we get back to the hotel.

  62. Denise says...

    I like this idea. I’ve recently started porch sitting without the phone, at least a little bit every day. I find being outside is super calming and it seems that even though I always think I don’t have enough time to porch sit, the days I do are way more relaxed. There’s some sort of time warp on my porch where sitting there actually creates more time, or at least a relaxed version of time. I used to play phone games and look at feeds on my phone while porch sitting which simply ruined the therapy so now I nix the phone.

  63. Jillian says...

    This post was literally one of the first things I saw today and thought it was quite serendipitous since today is my first day back on social media after a month away. I want to recommend this challenge to literally everyone.

    YES to not having a phone fuel anxiety. I hear that so hard.

  64. laura says...

    That photo is EVERYTHING

  65. Sarah says...

    YES! I am in the middle of completing the Artist’s Way right now, which requires three pages of “morning pages” every day, and I’ve started turning my phone on airplane mode at bedtime and not turning it back on until the pages are written and my first cup of coffee is savored. It has made each day start in a much less frantic, overwhelmed state than when I was reaching for my phone and instantly feeling panicked by texts, emails, and headlines. Cheers to building a morning practice!

    • Laura D. says...

      I’m also trying to start a morning practice through the Artist’s Way! It’s challenging for me to change up my morning routine, but it’s sooo needed.

    • Just started Week 5!! How exciting to have company! :)